NASA testing vintage engine from Apollo 11 rocket

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“This wouldn’t be your daddy’s F-1,” Coates said. “We’d use new materials and try to simplify it, update it.”

Case started at Marshall as a high school intern in 2002 and has been working there since graduating from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 2008. He said today’s technology allows things that weren’t possible during the 1960s, but he has been impressed by what he learned taking apart the unused Apollo 11 engine.

Engine No. F-6049 didn’t fit properly on the Apollo 11 rocket, but it is invaluable now as a testing tool. Coates said a total of 85 F-1 engines were used on 17 Apollo flights without a single failure.

About a dozen F-1 engines remain in Huntsville, home of NASA’s main propulsion center, and others are located elsewhere. Most are on display; Case said engineers used engine No. F-6049 for the tests because it was the most complete.

“It is really an excellent booster,” he said. “The guys in Apollo had it right.”

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Online:

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/home/index.html

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